Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

The Jedi Logic

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Star Wars is specially interesting because a magical (or “paranormal”) universe was adapted to a futuristic context which still depends on technology, and one assumes, science. The saga is not actually science fiction, it’s just a nice fantasy, but there’s a notable effort to give some logic to this universe where one can predict the future, use telekinesis and hope the “Force is with them” at the same time that they travel through hyperspace to get to Death Stars powered by giant nuclear reactors.

The most visible and curious incoherence in Star Wars is that in this high-tech world, a warrior elite represented by the Jedi use swords instead of weapons like pistols or machine guns. Granted their “swords” are ├╝ber cool lightsabers, a more “civilized” weapon, but as that infamous scene in Indiana Jones taught, Indiana may not be that civilized but he ended up alive. And maybe just as cool looking.

In the end, everything is explained simply because George Lucas was largely inspired by Kurosawa’s Jidai-geki samurais for his Jedi, but delving into the Star Wars fantasy, we may find a very interesting and far reaching Jedi logic for the lightsaber preference.

It’s all because the Jedis can predict the future. Just ask yourself how would you kill someone who could predict the future. Shooting at him? He does not even need to be a skilled warrior to deflect your shot, he can just easily avoid being your target by not being in the place to start with. Or he may even shoot you first – poor Greedo obviously didn’t have precognition, maybe Han Solo did.

Think of any way to kill someone who can predict the future, it’s impossible. He would always predict his own assassination and avoid it. You can try elaborate plans and dilemmas alike involving his loved ones, ideals and so on, but the fact remains that unless the future-predicting bastard lets you kill him, you wouldn’t ever be able to do it. That’s technically suicide.

That danger avoiding bastard would be pretty boring, we could have some drama at most. But things get more interesting when these future-predicting bastards are not cowards, and if their future-predicting is not equivalent to knowing with certainty everything that will ever happen (which may well be logically impossible if he plans to interfere with that). Just like the Jedi.

In such a Star Wars Universe, where some people can predict the future with progressively less certainty, it would still be very difficult to kill one of them, but not impossible. At the same time, if they were not cowards, they could train themselves to be able to foil assassination attempts without having to be always running away from them.

For instance, if you shot at one of them, even multiple times, they may predict where the shots would be (with reasonable certainty as the moment approaches) and actually train themselves to be able to either deflect or dodge them. They would be able to do that even if the shots were quicker than their “normal” reflexes. As they are predicting in some advance where the shots will be, they can plan a sequence of possible movements that will save them.

But there’s one way to kill them in which their precognition will be almost useless. And that’s close combat. If your first attack — either by hand, sword, whatever — can be predicted, your second one will depend on his reaction. Reaction that was based on his first prediction of your attack, which has just been altered when he interfered with it. And so on.

Which is, in close combat, because the predictions are being used and interfered with many times and their consequences are being felt almost instantaneously, precognition is not worth much more than plain old martial skills. That’s even more true if both fighters are capable of predicting the near future.

And that’s the wonderful reason why the warrior elite of this universe chooses lightsabers, the ultimate martial arts weapon, over more predictable weapons like guns or even bazookas. That’s the Jedi logic.

Reality would be very different if there were indeed people capable of predicting the near future like the Jedi. The whole logic of how everything works would be different. As it is, in real life we have just plain boring so-called “psychics” who can’t even win the lottery. That’s our real world logic. May the Reason be with you.

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Posted in Fortean,Paranormal,Skepticism | 4 comments

4 Comments so far

  1. acrater August 16th, 2007 6:42 am

    I don’t think it’s a problem of seeing the future. I think that all humans–Jedi or not–are quite capable of doing that. However, your assumption that the power would make you practically unkillable assumes that we’d be better at discerning the future than we are at observing the here and now. In fact,we have a terrible time interpreting what’s happening right in front of our eyes or understanding things that have happened in the past. Why should our views of the future be any different? Especially given the human propensity for wishful thinking. If so-called psi powers are real (and I think so) they probably don’t look anything like magic and they’ll be just as difficult to interpret as the face across the breakfast table.

  2. Mori August 16th, 2007 3:12 pm

    Good point, acrater. But even if someone foresaw the future with the same limitations that one could see the present (which would be a very limited precognition, very different even from the “Jedi” one), I still think that predicting their own death and avoiding it should be a very clear goal for anyone. We all have evolved instinctive ways to avoid death as fast as we can from the information that we get, and it’s usually one of our top priorities.
    Anyway, it indeed really depends on exactly how the precognition would work. But one that does not allow you to predict with some certainty something as important for you as your own death is hardly useful and far reaching. It’s something like that Christopher Walking SNL sketch, where he could only predict useless stuff.

  3. […] Jedi Logic […]

  4. Jedi February 5th, 2009 10:19 pm

    How Cute!- Jedi Squirrels!:)

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